As roadways become more congested, there is greater potential for automobile accidents and incidents. To improve roadway safety, automobile manufacturers are now designing and incorporating collision avoidance warning systems; yet, there has been little investigation of how the reliability of alarm signals might impact driver performance. We measured driving and alarm reaction performances following alarms of various reliability levels. In Experiment One, 70 participants operated a driving simulator while being presented console emitted collision alarms that were 50%, 75%, or 100% reliable. In Experiment Two, the same participants were presented spatially generated collision alarms of the same reliability levels. The results were similar in both experiments: alarm and automobile swerving reactions were significantly better when alarms were more reliable; however, drivers still failed to avoid collisions following reliable alarms. These results emphasize that alarm designers should maximize alarm reliability while minimizing alarm invasiveness. © 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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